Posted by: atowhee | March 27, 2015


BT AT NST1 (1280x960)This is my first look at a Bushtit nest this year.  The last image in the series shows the ‘tit at work onthe back side of the nest.  Bot of the pair were hauling material to the nest.BT NEST (1280x960) bt leans  bt thinkx nest bt works nstBesides our smallest songbird our heaviest Oregon owl is well into nesting, having owlets already.GH ON NSTTIn the sky spring goes forward: Ravens, Cumulus, TV.ravns two spring morn tuvu

Posted by: atowhee | March 26, 2015


We made a trip into the Cascades this evening to check Great Gray Owl nest platforms.  We checked three and found no action…yet, but it is early in the season.  Here are Emmalisa Whalley’s photos from our trip, including the other “great” owl, a nesting pair of GHOs:flowerHound;s tongue above, yellow violet below.  Both at Willow-Witt Ranch. flower2 greathornedowlPapa owl. greathornedowl2mon owl and gthe pale fuzzy object is owlet’s head. momandbaby momandbaby2

Posted by: atowhee | March 26, 2015


Species come, and species go. But virtual extinction occurs when a species is undiscovered by man, or when it goes decades without being found. For two birds we have good news. They’re still here!
Herdon’s Babbler is first on our back-from-the-dead list. Click here for full story. It’s been rediscovered in Myanmar.
The babbler family is full of dark brown skulking birds. The only one who lives in the New World is our Wrentit, and any Oregon or California birder can tell you they are easy to hear in coastal scrub, but to see one…
The rail family has suffered mightily around the world. Many species have gone extinct in limited habitat, like Pacific island chains. Many others have suffered from human encroachment and draining marshes. Just recently a dedicated ornithologist has proved the Zapata Rail survives in Cuba. Click here for details.

Posted by: atowhee | March 23, 2015


Every morning now it seems a couple more Siskins have come into our garden.  Gone are the days when I would see only one or two.SISK-TUBEWhen you are face to face with a tom turkey this time of year you can fully appreciate the relativity of “beauty.”  Somehow the hens seem to find the breeding season males to be attractive?  Ther bulbous barble ’bout the face baffle my brain.BLUE FACE1 BLUE FACE2Blue faces have been passe since the last English-Scots wars. BLUE FACE5The Proturding Carbuncle is the ultimate touch BVLUE FACE4Two Ravens soaring in a kettle that included several TVs as well.CORA SORA DIPP DRINXStanding on Lithia Park Bridge 33, no Dipper. Then suddenly the bird flew out from the nest box beneath the bridge, stopped on a stone, took a drink.  Then back to the nest.  Incubation is a thirty business. DIPP DRINX2Peekabo sparrow. HIDING SOSP PERE PASSOVERPeregrine that sped past me at Ashland Pond last yesterday. PERE SOARZ PERE UPPGH ON NSTTI am told the owlet (biggest one at least) is now visible at times at this nest. Osprey at Emigrant Lake, perched where it can eyebll the nest platform. OSPRCH PINT MALE1Male Pintail on the shore of Emigrant Lake.  Numerous Green-winged Teal were also among the Mallards.

Posted by: atowhee | March 21, 2015


GWT ON SHOR (1280x461)Green-winged Teal along the south end of Emigrant Lake.  And one male taking off. GWT TAKEOFFF (1280x947) h-t (1280x960)Hound’s tongue in bloom.  Below: my first aerial Osprey of the season. Always a thirll to watch this bird fishing. OSPAERIAL P2370351The homely House Finch, but this one had something to say, a few sweet cheeps. Note the bright coloration on the rump as he tries to imitate the Yellow-rumped Warbler. P2370368On these close-up views you can see the convex curve on the upper beak, a useful field mark not shared by Cassin’s and Purple Finches.  Also, no notch in  his tail.  And no facial pattern.

THE BIG ONE THAT DIDN’T GET AWAYggow-shneckThis is Karl Schneck’s best shot of his lifer Great Gray that we found on Thursday evening near Howard Prairie.  Note how long the wings are.  He’s giving us “the stare.”  You don’t want to be re-born as a vole.

Posted by: atowhee | March 21, 2015


Here in Ashland I must crib from Shakespeare as the most DRAMAtic sighting of my day, was, in fact, a lark!HOLA 3-4 VU (1280x885) HOLA ASIDEThe dogs and i were cruising along the waterline, the rising waterline, thankfully, at Emigrant Lake this evening.  We were looking for shorebirds, ignoring the occasional Killdeer, hoping for something more.  Suddenly a small dun-colored bird flitted along the rocks and landed about 20 yards away.  I didn’t notice any pattern that would hint at pipit (too early for them anyway) or Savanna Sparrow.  ??   A look through the binocs…and there it was: a true lark.  This is the first time I have seen a Horned Lark at Emigrant Lake.  I have submitted 235 checklists to eBird from that location in all seasons with at least one checklist for about 48 weeks on the calender…and this is the first Horned Lark. HOLA FCES HOLA OVR SHLDRIn fact this was a Jackson County lifer for me as this species is not common anywhere in the county that I know of.  I see them regularly and sometimes in large numbers east of the Cascades, in Klamath County.  But like Black Tern, Pygmy Nuthatch, White-faced Ibis and Chukar, they are not expected on our western side of the Cascades.  I count this as a semi-shorebird after all.  Though it is the only widespread, resident member of the lark family in North America, this species is called “Shore Lark” by the Brits.  And there it was, along the lakeshore.


JR1 (1280x825)This is truly “jumpin’ jack flash.”  I’ll never get pictures like this again. JR2 JR3In a congress of jackrabbits the ears have it.

Ashland Pond, Jackson, US-OR
Mar 21, 2015 9:50 AM – 10:40 AM.  25 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  50     flying around after being frightened up from Bear Creek
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  30
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  2
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  1
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  1
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  3
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  4
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  10
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  8
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1     calling
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)  1
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  20
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  X
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  12
Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)  8
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

Kirtland Rd.–Ponds, Jackson, US-OR
Mar 21, 2015 1:00 PM – 1:15 PM. 13 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Gadwall (Anas strepera)  20
American Wigeon (Anas americana)  1
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  X
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  300
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  1
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2
American Coot (Fulica americana)  50
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  40
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  2
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  40
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  2

Emigrant Lake, Jackson, US-OR
Mar 21, 2015 4:15 PM – 5:45 PM.  25 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  50
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  20
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  4
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  5
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  2
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)  1–first of year at Emigrant, not on nest platform
American Coot (Fulica americana)  2
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  5
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  3
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  11
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  50
Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris)  1
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  6
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  4
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  X
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  6
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  1

Posted by: atowhee | March 21, 2015


Birding can often bring a surprise, or two.  At the pond today there were exactly two, though one surprise had several parts.  It was a small flock of Evening Grosbeaks, the first I’ve seen in Jackson County this year.EG TWO EG VAGUEThe largest of finches, the EG is one of our most unpredictable local species. EGGRPAnd the pond itself held a modest surprise, the first Ruddy Duck I’ve seen there this year.  Usually I expect them on larger reservoirs or coastal bays. RUDU REFLX

My most surprising bird ofg the day was a little surprise, the bird being smaller than a Robin.  Horned Lark, a Jackson County life for me.  Also a jumpin’ jack performed on camera.  Click here for pics of both.

Then up at Touvelle there was an Osprey on the nest platform already.  Reported by other birders earlier, this is the first Osprey I’ve seen in the county this year.OSP ON NESTThis nest is a short glide from the banks of the Rogue River.  Something fishy about that. At the nearby Kirtland Ponds there were hundreds of feeding Shovelers, males all in bright red sidewalls preparatory to luring the female.  There were a smattering of other dabblers as well.

There s no Great Horned Owl nest in the big trees at the Table Rock Bible Chruch this year.  Winter storms may have blown those sticks away.  Red-tails our nesting about halfway between that church and the Rogue River bridge.

Posted by: atowhee | March 20, 2015


elk--ashfordThese first three photos are by Dick Ashford.  Elk in cascades.  Below:  some very informative images of a Harlan’s Hawk (Red-tail) in flight. harl1 harl2Dr. Richard Harlan was a Philadelphia physician and naturalist, close friend of Audubon.  It was he who named this dark-feathered bird after Harlan and declared it a separate species. Audubon nicknamed this buteo the “Black Warrior.”  In 1825 Harlan published a pioneering work on the known mammals of North America, two decades before Audubon’s own book on the mammals came out.

Click here a look at Mountain Bird Festival trip schedule…you may be too late for the Great Gray Owl trips but Gray Jay, cranes, Mountain Chickadee and a White-headed Woodpecker or two would still make a pretty good weekend of birding, no?MTBF COLOR LOGO

Posted by: atowhee | March 20, 2015


UPDATE: March 22:  Russ Namitz tells me this bird is likely an Aleutian Cackler, not a Richardson’s.  Means he (the goose, not Russ) has a very long migration to get back to the breeding grounds this spring.

This morning the answer came back, “I am cackling about in this pasture with the big guys.”

And so it was.  Once upon a time a single Cackling Geese set down on the greensward of Billings Ranch next to those layabout Canadians who graze where they have not sown, sleep for free and generally live off the welfare estate of ranch and golf course.CACK (1280x960) CACK2 (1280x960) CACK3 (1280x960) CACK4 (1280x960) CACK5 (1280x960) P2360947 (1280x960)I am not an expert on the niceties of various Canada/Cackling sub-species and races but this one appears to be a Richardson’s with its white choker and fairly dark breast feathers.

John Richardson (1787-1865), for the record, was one of those intrepid Scottish surgeons of the 19th Century.  Not unlike our own Dr. Tolmie who lived much of his life in the Pacific Northwest and thence British Columbia.  I particularly admire this doctor, Richardson, because he is the first man to find a Great Gray Owl nest.  He then proceeded to cut down the tree to retrieve the eggs.  Not so admirable after all.  This was in the 1820s near Great Slave Lake, Canada.  From 1812-1827 he made repeated visits to the North American Arctic and served on an expedition with a guy named Franklin (of gull fame) 1825-7.  That’s when he found that first GGO nest.  As late as 1848, already more than sixty years old, Richardson returned to the Arctic on one of the many expeditions trying to find the remains of Franklin’s final, fatal attempt to find the Northwest Passage.  Now with the passage of time and rising of temps we have that fabled waterway open to move yet more oil around the earth.

Posted by: atowhee | March 20, 2015


Ashland Pond.  Today marks the calender’s claim that spring has begun.  In this area we all know spring gradually overthrew winter back in February some time.  Now there are cherry trees in bloom, bees and mosquitoes in the air and grass being mown.  Yet, this sunless, gray morn found our hulking harbingers of spring…grounded.

There was no wind, no twig vibrated, no leaf waved, the surface of the pond looked like glass and not water.  The only motion came when one of the Hooded Mergansers dove and sent out rings of ripples.  The self-propelled Tree Swallows swo0ped in a small flock, circuited the pond a few times, then sped off on their northward migration. Silent and determined. See you again next September, guys.

Equally silent, but patiently waiting were our arboreal harbingers.  The Turkey Vultures sat about with no solar warmth, no rising thermals, no desire to actually flap their wings for forward motion.  Vulture’s the name, soaring’s the game.  By afternoon the air had heated and rose up and these TVs went waffling off down the valley toward the north horizon.TV ROOST TV ROOST3 TV ROOST5 TVROOST2

Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 462 other followers

%d bloggers like this: